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Hamath in the Iron age: the Inscriptions

John David Hawkins
p. 183-190


Les incriptions découvertes à Hamath et sur son territoire et qui documentent ses souverains au début de l’âge du Fer correspondent à une série de monuments en louvite hiéroglyphique datés du xie au ixe s. av. J.-C., une unique stèle araméenne du viiie s. et quatre stèles assyriennes du début et de la fin du viiie s. Deux des souverains peuvent être identifiés avec des princes de Hamath nommés dans les inscriptions royales assyriennes, Irhuleni et Zakur, et un autre dans une lettre akkadienne que lui écrivit un roi de Anat sur le moyen Euphrate, Rudamu. Autant de références importantes pour faire le lien entre la chronologie du royaume de Hamath et le système fiable de datation de l’Assyrie.

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Texte intégral

1The Iron Age inscriptions from the Kingdom of Hamath may be tabulated as follows (Table 1):

Table 1.

Dates Luwian Aramaic Assyrian Rulers
11th cent. Tiglath-pileser I
Taita I aleppo 6, 7
10th cent. Toʿi (Tʿy)
Taita II meharde
Kupapiya Sheizar
9th cent. Assurnasirpal II
Parita Shalmaneser III
Urhilina hama 4, 5, 8 Irhuleni
qalʿat el mudiq
tell šib
Uratami hama 1-3 Rudamu
hama 6, 7
8th century Adad-nirari III
antakya Zakur
afis ZKR
Tiglath-pileser III
Sargon II

Rulers of Hamath and their inscriptions

2The inscriptions from Aleppo and Meharde-Sheizar are deferred for discussion to the end, since their contexts have only recently become clearer, and they belong to a period pre-dating the formation of the kingdom of Hamath.

  • 1 Thompson 1912.
  • 2 J. D. Hawkins, in Hawkins, Morpurgo-Davies & Neumann 1974, p. 157f.

3The “Hamathite stones”, inscriptions of Urhilina and his son Uratami, were among the first Hieroglyphic Luwian inscriptions to come to the attention of European scholars. They were collected from various locations in the old city in 1872 for dispatch to Istanbul, and were published in 1873, repeated in 1882. Urhilina’s name was read and identified as “Irhuleni the Hamathite” attested in inscriptions of Shalmaneser III in the period 853-845 bc, which establishes his historical context and minimum dates. The reading of the king’s name and his country’s in the Hieroglyphic Luwian inscriptions contributed to the decipherment of this script, yielding the sign values hu, li, na and ma, tu to R. Campbell Thompson 1, though the reading of the country name as amatu was later corrected to i-ma-tu 2.

4Urhilina is the first Hamathite king attested in his own inscriptions, which give some idea of the range of his building works. The orthostat block hama 4, a right-hand door jamb, bears an inscription in two parts, A and B.

  • 3 Riis 1978-1980, p. 48-50; P. J. Riis, in Riis & Buhl 1990, p. 28 and fig. 3, p. 108.

5The long side A records Urhilina’s construction of a “seat” ((SOLIUM)asa-) for every god, including “this seat” for Baʿlat (Pahalati), on which he put her and his own names. A protective curse breaks off and must have continued on a lost element on the left. The narrow side B reports that he endowed the temple with income and sacrificial oxen which it lacked in the times of his father and grandfather. The reference to “this seat” indicates that the door jamb belonged to this structure, doubtless in a prominent place. The block had been discovered reused in the wall of a shop on the edge of the Orontes river only a short distance from the south-eastern side of the citadel mound at a point where the destroyed part of the building (Bâtiment III) would have been. The excavators identified this building as a temple and suggested that it was the shrine of Baʿlat named in the inscription. P. J. Riis has argued in detail that it may have been the right-hand jamb of the door leading from court B into the destroyed rear of the building H 3.

  • 4 P. J. Riis, in Riis & Buhl 1990, p. 28, 32.

6hama 5 is part of a large, dressed orthostat block, preserving at the top of one face part of the left edge of a 4-line inscription. Lines 3-4 give a legible clause closely matching one on hama 4: “I put the Storm-God’s and my name(s).” This suggests that the piece originally formed a pair to hama 4. It was found much more recently, and Riis suggests, not implausibly, that it might have stood as the opposite left-hand door jamb. This implies in turn that Bâtiment III was a double temple to the Storm-God (perhaps known in his West Semitic manifestation El or Baʿal) and his consort Baʿlat 4.

  • 5 CHLI I/2, IX.6.
  • 6 Hawkins 1996; also J. D. Hawkins, in Bunnens 2006, ch. 2, p. 27f.; CHLI I/1, III.3.

7Urhilina was also the author of a peculiar, unfinished inscription, known to me only on a photograph from the antiquities market. Its odd appearance suggested that it was a forgery, yet it shows features which convinced me of its authenticity, details unlikely to have been known to any forger. Published as hama 8 5, it records Urhilina’s [construction] of a granary for Baʿlat. More recently another inscription dedicating a granary has been excavated at Tell Ahmar and published as tell ahmar 5 6. In this inscription the king Hamiyata records how his father filled “these granaries”, and set the Storm-God of Aleppo over them. This stele must have constituted the identificatory inscription of the granaries themselves. Urhilina’s unfinished inscription was clearly intended for the same purpose.

  • 7 Gonnet 2010.

8Territory under Hamathite control in the reign of Urhilina is minimally indicated by the discovery at outlying sites of stelae with duplicate inscriptions stating that he built “this city” and dedicated the stele to Baʿlat. Unfortunately for our information, Urhilina does not give the name of any of his foundations, though they might well be among the Hamathite cities named by Shalmaneser III in his attacks on Hamath. These stelae presumably mark the sites at or near which they were found as Urhilina’s foundations, especially Apamea/Qalʿat el Mudiq where the stele was excavated in situ. The stelae qalʿat el mudiq and restan thus should mark the minimum extent of Urhilina’s power to the north and south, and the recently discovered tell šṭib its extension eastwards 7.

  • 8 CHLI I/2, IX.5. hines.

9An extraordinary echo of the city foundation inscriptions of Urhilina was found in northern Iraq in 1924 in a house in Hines village near Bavian, dug recently as was reported from the tell of Hines 8. The fragment preserves parts of two lines of incised inscription running continuously, and the surviving text follows closely a part of Urhilina’s foundation inscriptions:

“ …] son, Hamathite country king, and this [ …”

10It differs from them in style (incised rather than relief) and in sign-forms (monumental mu, cursive ma). Who could have executed this piece and why, and how it came to its find-spot are alike completely mysterious.

  • 9 CHLI I/2, IX.7. hama 9.
  • 10 Riis & Buhl 1990, no. 800, p. 215 with fig. 98; CHLI I/2, IX.18. hama frag. 5.

11Further curious survivals from Urhilina’s reign are a number of fragments of shell and one complete example inscribed with his name “Urhilana king”. These were excavated in Fort Shalmaneser, Nimrud in 1962 9. Surprisingly another example of these objects was excavated at Hama itself by the Danish Expedition in 1935 though not published until 1990 10. What these objects were (castanets have been suggested) and how they came to Nimrud (booty or part of a diplomatic present) are unanswered questions.

  • 11 RIMA 3, A.O. 102, 74, 75, 76, 83.

12The historical context of Urhilina’s reign was the attacks by Shalmaneser III as recorded in his annals for the years 853, 849, 848 and 845 bc against an alliance of Urhilina with Adad-idri of Damascus and others. To what extent these attacks weakened Hamath is uncertain. Shalmaneser described his victory over the alliance in 853 bc at Qarqar with blood-thirsty rhetoric, yet the fact that he repeated this assault, in 849, 848, and 845 bc suggests that he was not overwhelmingly successful, and that the alliance held firm. He also claimed, and depicted on his Bronze Gates, the capture of the Hamathite cities Parga, Ada, Qarqar and Aštamaku 11. By 841 bc Shalmaneser was able to attack Damascus directly without any mention of Hamath, which thus seems to have been detached from the alliance by force or perhaps by diplomacy. More than a century later, Sargon II on his stele borowski (see below) celebrating his conquest of Hamath claimed to have imposed on Assyrians settled there tribute and tax “like that which the kings my fathers [sc. Shalmaneser III] had imposed on Irhuleni the Hamathite”. This historical claim seems unlikely, given that Shalmaneser III, not a reticent annalist, makes no mention of it in his numerous surviving records, but it may reflect a situation in which Urhilina had reached some kind of entente with Assyria.

  • 12 CHLI I/2, IX.8-10.
  • 13 CHLI I/2, IX.11, 12.
  • 14 Riis 1978-1980, p. 50-52, marked on pl. II; again, with the addition of the two new blocks, Riis & (...)

13Urhilina was succeeded by his son, Uratami, as we learn from the latter’s inscriptions, who must therefore be contemporary with the later part of Shalmaneser’s long reign. His inscriptions include three of the original “Hamathite stones”, hama 1, 2 and 3 12, and two new ones, hama 6 and 7 13, found a century later. The find-spots of the first three are discussed by Riis 14.

14These five inscriptions of Uratami all follow the same formula:

  1. I (am) Uratami, Urhilina’s son, Hamathite king
  2. I myself built this fortress,
  3. which the river-land A/B/C made (Hurpata/Laka/Musanipa)
    (hama 6: which the men of the land Kusuna made)
    (hama 7: which the river-land of Mount E made and the land F (Labarna, Tuhayata)
  4. (omitted hama 3 and 6) and therein (is) the land G/H/I ((men of) Halab/Nikima/Hamayara)


§1. The “fortress”. The Hier. Luwian word used is harnisanza which is translated in the Karatepe bilingual by the Phoenician qrt, “city”, referring to Azatiwadaya (Karatepe) itself (karatepe §XXXVIII.203; §XLV; §LIII.305; §LXV.353); by Phoenician myt, “wall(s)”, referring to Azatiwada’s external constructions (§XIX.97; §XXIII.123; also çineköy, §VIII); and by Phoenician ʾrst, “lands”, referring to the enemies conquered (§XXV.130). Here it seems likely to refer to the city-wall of Hamath, or more specifically to stretches of that wall.

  • 15 Laroche 1973.
  • 16 Cf. the discussion in Lipiński 2000, p. 297f.
  • 17 See RGTC 6, s.v. « Hurpanta, Musunipa ».

§2. “… I built”, §3. “which they made”. What is the distinction between “building” and “making”? Perhaps the Hamathite king planned and ordered (“built”) the project, and the “river-lands” under his control, carried out (“made”) the work in separate sections.
The “river-lands”: this concept was clarified by Laroche 15, who brought together Cuneiform ÍD, Hitt. hapa-, Luw. hapi-, “river”; Hieroglyphic (FLUMEN.REGIO) hapata/i-, Hitt. (hapax) hapati-, “river-land”, Cuneiform KUR.ÍD. The term designates the fertile irrigated valleys. In the Hier. Luw. inscriptions the expression is found in Malatya (izgin I, §5), Maraş (maraş 8, §§2, 3), Karkamiš (karkamiš A11b+c, §25, the river Sajur; A12, §6); cf. also the expression FLUMEN.DOMINUS, “river-lord”, presumably the ruler of a river-land, found in the inscriptions of Commagene (boybeypinari 1, §2; 2, §5; malpinar, §§1, 13); assur letter e, §24; Karkamiš (cekke, §10); Cilicia (karatepe 3, §1); and now the fuller logographic writing FLUMEN.REGIO.DOMINUS (aleppo 6, §9).
These Hamathite “river-lands” may be understood, mainly at least, as stretches of the Orontes river under Hamathite sway. None of the toponyms is very certainly identified, let alone located, though one might expect the two cities market by Urhilina’s foundation inscriptions qalʿat el mudiq and restan to appear among them 16. Hurpata and Musanipa have been compared with unlocated toponyms attested in Hittite texts 17. Laka has been identified with Laqe on the middle Euphrates, which would suggest the existence of long-distance trans-desert links for Hamath, for which there is some other evidence (the Rudamu letter, see below). Perhaps the most plausible identification is that of the mountain written la-pa+ra/i-na, which otherwise may represent Labarna, as Labrana, i.e. Lebanon (Hitt. Lablana). This would indicate the extension of Hamathite influence southward to embrace the Mountain. The lands (note not “river-lands”) Kusuna and Tuhayata are unknown.

§4. “Therein (is) (the men of) the land Halab/the land Nikima/the land Hamayara.” Of these toponyms only Halab is known, and it may imply Hamathite control of Aleppo at this date. As to the precise significance of this clause, omitted in two of the five inscriptions, we may only speculate. We have supposed that the inscriptions record the building of five separate sections of the city wall of Hamath. The inscribed blocks look as if they were built into the wall of a gateway, and we might consider that this final clause could have recorded the troops who garrisoned each particular post. As for the fortress/wall itself, Riis has supposed that it was the citadel wall, from which the inscriptions were brought down to their later find-spots. Alternatively we could suggest that it was the fortification of a lower town.

  • 18 See Parpola 1990, p. 257-265.
  • 19 RIMA A.O. 102.90.
  • 20 Cf. the correspondence between Zīmrī-Lim of Mari and Ishī-Addu of Qatna.

16Uratami has also been recognized as the “Rudamu”, recipient of a letter from his “brother” ruler, Marduk-apla-uṣur. This tablet was among a small group of texts excavated in Bâtiment III 18. The blessings on Anat and Hamath with which the letter concludes reveal the respective seats of the correspondents, and Marduk-apla-uṣur has been identified as the ruler of the land Suhi, whose submission to Shalmaneser III was recorded on the Black Obelisk 19. There is no great problem in recognizing Rudamu as a Cuneiform rendering of Uratami (itself probably a derived verbal form of Luw. ura-, “great”, + participial -mi-). A correspondence between Hamath on the middle Orontes and Anat of the land Suhi on the middle Euphrates would be one of the occasional indications of a trans-desert route running through Palmyra/Tadmar, which may be observed in ancient near eastern history 20.

  • 21 See Donbaz 1990; RIMA 3, A.O. 104.3 and 2.

17After the days of the Urhilina-Uratami dynasty in Hamath, no further epigraphic evidence from the country is known until the fragmentary Aramaic stele of ZKR, found probably at Tell Afis (thus the afis stele), a large mound on the east side of the Saraqeb-Teftanaz road, until recently under excavation by an Italian expedition. In this inscription ZKR, who styles himself king of ḤMT and LʿŠ (the names have been identified in Cuneiform as Zakur, Hamat and Luhuti), narrates how the god Baʿal-Šamayim made him king in ḤZRK (Cuneiform Hatarikka = Tell Afis). Thereupon he was assailed and besieged in his city by an alliance instigated by Bar-Hadad, son of Hazael, king of Aram (= Damascus), including Bar-Guš and the kings of Que, Unqi, Gurgum, Samʾal, Melid and a number of others whose names are lost, but he was saved by the intervention of Baʿal-Šamayim. Further light was shed on this event by the publication in 1990 of two Assyrian stelae of Adad-nirari III, both boundary markers (tahumu) between north Syrian states: the pazarcik stele set up by Adad-nirari III and his mother (!) Sammuramat between Kummuh and Gurgum in favour of the former; and the antakya stele set up by Adad-nirari III and the turtan Šamši-ilu between Hamath and Arpad, apparently in favour of the latter 21.

  • 22 Millard 1994, p. 33, 57.
  • 23 Millard 1994, p. 35, 57.

18The text of the pazarcik stele gives its political background. Ušpilulume king of Kummuh called on the Assyrians against Ataršumki of Arpad and his alliance of eight kings, whose defeat in a battle at Paqirahubuni led to the establishment of the frontier. Here clearly Kummuh was acting as Assyrian client, and it is safe to assume that Gurgum was part of the enemy alliance. The most probable date for these events is 805 bc, for which the Eponym Chronicle registers “against Arpad” 22. The antakya stele records that the king and the turtan set up the boundary between Zakur of Hamath and Ataršumki at the town Nahlasi, conceding its territory to Ataršumki and dividing the Orontes river equally between the two parties. While here there is reason to think that Hamath was the Assyrian client, the concessions seem to be in favour of Ataršumki, the former enemy. The most likely date is 796 bc, for which the Eponym Chronicle has “against Manṣuate” 23.

  • 24 E.g. Naʾaman 1991, p. 85.
  • 25 See discussion, Kahn 2007, p. 70.

19We may combine the information from the pazarcik, antakya and afis stelae to reconstruct an outline of the relations of Adad-nirari III with the north Syrian states. The only western campaigns registered for him in the Eponym Chronicle are 805 and 804 bc (“against Arpad”, “against Hazazu”) and 796 bc (“against Manṣuate”), and it has been proposed above to associate the pazarcik stele with the first and the antakya stele with the last. Thus in 805 bc Ataršumki of Arpad led his alliance of eight kings against Kummuh, while in 796 bc Zakur of Hamath faced an alliance, incited by Damascus, of Bar-Guš and Que, Unqi, Gurgum, Samʾal, Melid [and some other lost names]. Bar-Guš may well be understood as the dynastic surname of Ataršumki of Bit-Agusi/Arpad, and it is likely that the five preserved names of the 796 allies were among the eight of 805. What seems to have changed between the settlements of 805 and 796 bc is that Ataršumki, the former enemy, is the beneficiary of the later arbitration at the expense of the Assyrian client Hamath. Some scholars have expressed doubt that after defeat in 805 bc the Ataršumki alliance would have been able to attack Zakur in Hatarikka in 796 bc, and have thus attempted to date the latter even earlier 24, but this argument seems by no means compelling. Others have found difficulty in the favourable treatment of Ataršumki the enemy of 805 bc, in the settlement of 796 bc, yet diplomatic shifts over a period of nine years should hardly cause surprise 25.

  • 26 Following Weippert 1992, p. 58f. with n. 97.
  • 27 See Naʾaman 2002.
  • 28 E.g. Kahn 2007, p. 70.
  • 29 Hawkins 1995, p. 95f.

20More difficult is the question of the site of the Hamath-Arpad frontier demarcation of 796 bc, and the location of the town Nahlasi. The antakya stele was discovered in the Orontes valley about half-way between Antakya and the sea (for the circumstances of the discovery, see below, Appendix). Most scholars have assumed that this must be the site of Nahlasi and the frontier demarcation 26. Now one may well accept that the Hamath-Unqi frontier ran from the sea, up the lower Orontes, past the site of the later Antioch (Antakya), continuing eastwards from the point where the course of the river comes up from the south 27. However, to place the territory of Nahlasi conceded to Arpad on the facing bank of the Orontes, would result, as a glance at the map (map 1) would confirm, in the complete obliteration of the kingdom of Unqi with its capital at Tell Tayinat/Kinalua. This was seen by Weippert, who speaks of the implication: “that at the time of the erection of the stele [Antakya], the state Patin no longer existed, and that under the Assyrian arbitration its territory was partitioned between the states Hamath and Arpad”. Other scholars merely speak of a reduction of the territory of Unqi 28, but the map makes clear that an advance of Arpad to the lower Orontes could only have been possible with the complete annexation of all of Unqi. There is however no evidence in favour of such a drastic occurrence, and the land of Unqi, a member of the anti-Zakur alliance, still existed under its own king fifty years later in the reign of Tiglath-pileser III, to be conquered and annexed by him in 738 bc as the Assyrian province of Kunalia/Kullani. So one must question, as I have, whether indeed the find-spot of the Antakya stele was its original location and thus the site of Nahlasi and the frontier demarcation 29. I have suggested an alternative possibility, that the stele was conveyed down-stream from further up the Orontes, from a point more easily intelligible as a frontier between Hamath and Arpad, before ending up in the river at its recent extraordinary find-spot.

Map 1.

Map 1.

The Iron Age inscriptions of Hamath (∆)

© D. Hawkins, M. Sauvage

  • 30 Millard 1994, p. 39ff., 58f.

21The reign of Zakur over the double kingdom of Hamath and Luʿaš marks the passage of power in Hamath from the Neo-Hittite dynasty to an Aramean ruler based in Hatarikka. As seen above, Zakur was a contemporary of the Assyrian king Adad-nirari III and more specifically of the turtan Šamši-ilu, who was effectively king of the West from his seat in Kar-Shalmaneser/Til-Barsip, with a minimum tenure from 796 to 752 bc. For the reigns of Adad-nirari’s successors, his three sons, together 782-745 bc, there is little evidence for conditions in Hamath-Luʿaš. There is only the Eponym Chronicle record of campaigns against Hatarikka, presumably conducted by Šamši-ilu in unknown circumstances, in the years 772, 765 and 755 bc 30.

  • 31 Radner 2006, p. 58-61.
  • 32 Radner 2006, p. 58, 62.
  • 33 Tadmor 1994, p. 265-268, including comment on the omission of Hamath from the earliest version of t (...)

22With the accession of Tiglath-pileser III in 745 bc, the Assyrians returned to north Syria in full force. The brunt of his first attack fell upon Arpad, besieged and captured in 742-740 bc, followed by Unqi in 738 bc. The two conquered states were annexed to Assyria as the provinces Arpad and Kullani (= Kunalia/Tell Tayinat) 31. In the 738 bc campaign the northern districts of Hamath also opposed Assyria (“revolted”) and were annexed as two provinces, Hatarikka (inland) and Ṣimirra (coastal) 32. The truncated land of Hamath under an Aramean ruler Eni-ilu appears among the tributary kings of 738 bc 33.

  • 34 Radner 2006, p. 61, s.v. « Manṣuate », claiming that Nimrud Letter 22 shows that Manṣuate was an As (...)

23The part —active or passive— played by Hamath in Tiglath-pileser’s war against Damascus, 733-732 bc, which ended with the conquest and annexation of that country, is undocumented. It has been stated that Hamath too was taken and its territory annexed during this campaign 34. The supporting evidence is speculative, and the absence of any mention of such an event in the surviving records of Tiglath-pileser speaks against it.

  • 35 Lie 1929, p. 6 ll.23ff. = ARAB II, §5; Winckler 1889, I, p. 102ff., II.65, X.3, ll.33-36 = ARAB II, (...)

24Certainly Sargon II claimed that it was he who defeated and annexed Hamath after the city led by a usurper Yau-bi’di fomented a revolt among the already annexed provinces Arpad, Ṣimirra, Damascus and Samaria. His annals for his second regnal year contained a full account of the event which is largely lost but summarized in the display inscription 35.

  • 36 Thureau-Dangin 1933.
  • 37 Hawkins 2004.
  • 38 The explanation for this, and the possible date are discussed in Hawkins 2004.

25Fragments of two victory stelae set up by Sargon in the territory of Hamath have been found: the asharne stele, found at the site of that name, which actually preserves reference to the erection of stelae in the lands of Hamath, Hatar[ikka] and others 36; and the borowski stele, which preserves a record of the settlement in the land of Hamath of 6,300 Assyrians, “guilty” (bēl hitti) presumably of not supporting Sargon when he took the throne 37. It is on the borowski stele that Sargon claims to have imposed taxation and tribute “like that which the kings my fathers imposed on Irhuleni the Hamathite” (see above). This stele also preserves the ends of 26 lines, sufficient to identify the passage as a collection of conquest summaries which belong to late in the reign, not earlier than 709/708 bc, the latest dated event visible on this side. This stele therefore must have been erected more than ten years after the conquest of Hamath in 720 bc 38.

  • 39 Radner 2006, p. 61, 66.

26Though Sargon claimed to have placed Hamath under a governor (cyprus stele, right side ll. 61-65 = ARAB II, §183), no such official is attested in the Sargonid period and Hamath’s status as an Assyrian province is doubted. It is probable that its territory was incorporated in the province of Manṣuate 39. Occasional Sargonid references to the city Hamath occur, but it would seem that a destruction by Sargon effectively put an end to its importance until a Hellenistic re-foundation.

  • 40 CHLI I/2, IX.13,14.

27A pair of “Hamathite” inscriptions, meharde and sheizar listed above (table 1), could be regarded as enigmatic in the year 2000 40, but have been elucidated and placed in context by recent discoveries. Their provenance is stated to be the sites from which they are named, the village of Meharde and the neighbouring castle Sheizar, situated by the river Orontes where the Hama-Qalʿat el Mudiq road crosses it. Their inscriptions declare them the work of Taita king of the land WaDAsatini (the DA has now been re-read, see below), and of his wife Kupapiya as her funerary monument. The curious form of the script appeared to be archaic but might have been archaizing. The name of the land WaDAsatini was attested elsewhere only on a fragment from Tell Tayinat (tell tayinat 1), where it could be understood as the Hier. Luwian designation of the land of Unqi (the Amuq) itself, which is surprisingly distant from Meharde-Sheizar.

  • 41 See Kohlmeyer 2009; Hawkins 2009, also Hawkins 2011a.

28The inscriptions aleppo 6 and 7 excavated in 2003 and 2004-2005 in the temple of the Storm-God on Aleppo citadel, are the work of Taita king of the land of PaDAsatini 41.

  • 42 Hawkins 2005, p. 289f.; Rieken & Yakubovich 2010.
  • 43 Dinçol et al. 2015.

29The sign DA, formerly ta4 and ta5 (L. 319, L. 172), may now be re-read as (a)li and (a)la (Empire), and la/i and lá/í (Late) 42. This alters the toponym to Palastini (Aleppo 6) and Walastini (meharde, sheizar, tell tayinat 1). Furthermore a pair of new stelae with duplicate inscriptions were found at Arsuz near İskenderun in 2008 (arsuz 1 and 2) 43. These were the work of a Suppiluliuma son of Manana, king of Walastini. Stylistically very comparable to the Suhi-Katuwa monuments at Karkamiš, these may be provisionally dated to the 10th cent. bc, and they support the location of the land Walastin in the Amuq, with its capital at Tell Tayinat. The combined attestations of Palastin/Walastin suggest the existence in the 11th and early 10th cent. of a powerful kingdom centered on the Amuq, controlling under Taita I Ain Dara and Aleppo, perhaps also Karkamiš, and under Taita II, perhaps his grandson, as far south as Meharde-Sheizar. This kingdom would have formed in the “dark age” following the dissolution of the Hittite Empire in the territory of its vassal states such as Mukiš, Nuhašše, Halab, Niya and Tunip. By the 9th cent. bc it would have split into the Neo-Hittite ruled states of Unqi and Hamath and the Aramean Bit-Agusi (later Arpad). Thus this group of inscriptions of Palastin/Walastin is gradually revealing the political vicissitudes of north Syria between the Hittite Empire of the Late Bronze Age and the Neo-Hittite and Aramean states of the Early Iron Age.

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The find-spot of the Antakya stele a

Figure 1.

Figure 1.

The Antakya stele (d’après Donbaz 1990, p. 11, fig. 3)

© Courtoisie Royal Inscriptions of Mesopotamia Project

It seems appropriate to record what I know personally of the somewhat unusual circumstances of the discovery of the Antakya stele of Adad-nirari III (fig. 1). Veysel Donbaz, the first editor of the inscription, records:

“About 1968, when Selâhattin Asım was the director of the Antakya Museum, [the stele] was found by a peasant digging a new well near the Orontes at an approximate depth of six metres, to the left of the road between Antakya and Samandağ … The area is a flat open valley covered with trees and orchards. Very shortly after the discovery of the stele Asım was summoned to the find-spot and acquired it for the museum.”

This information was provided by myself to Donbaz in a letter dated 30 October 1987. I myself was informed of the existence of the stele by Dominique Collon in a letter dated 10 October 1971. She had seen it in the laboratuar of the museum, where it still was when I saw it in 1974. On that visit I was taken by Selâhattin Asım to see the find-spot between the Antakya-Samandağ road and the river Orontes in the neighbourhood of the village Karaçay. I met and talked to the farmer and was shown the well.

By an extraordinary coincidence, at a reception in the Turkish Embassy in London, in December 1999, I had the pleasure of talking with the then Cultural Attaché, Bay Mithat Rende, and in the course of our conversation it emerged unprompted that he as a child had actually been present and witnessed the discovery. His testimony confirms the factuality of the account beyond doubt.

Apart from the remarkable chance of hitting the stele at such a depth in the course of the new well construction, how did the stele come to be buried in this way? Had it been a case of clearing an old well, one could suppose that the stele had simply been thrown down it at some date, but the witnesses (the farmer, Asım and Rende) seem agreed that it was a new well. One must thus probably suppose that it fell or was thrown into the river, which over the centuries has moved away leaving it buried in the 6 m of sediment.

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Document annexe

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1 Thompson 1912.

2 J. D. Hawkins, in Hawkins, Morpurgo-Davies & Neumann 1974, p. 157f.

3 Riis 1978-1980, p. 48-50; P. J. Riis, in Riis & Buhl 1990, p. 28 and fig. 3, p. 108.

4 P. J. Riis, in Riis & Buhl 1990, p. 28, 32.

5 CHLI I/2, IX.6.

6 Hawkins 1996; also J. D. Hawkins, in Bunnens 2006, ch. 2, p. 27f.; CHLI I/1, III.3.

7 Gonnet 2010.

8 CHLI I/2, IX.5. hines.

9 CHLI I/2, IX.7. hama 9.

10 Riis & Buhl 1990, no. 800, p. 215 with fig. 98; CHLI I/2, IX.18. hama frag. 5.

11 RIMA 3, A.O. 102, 74, 75, 76, 83.

12 CHLI I/2, IX.8-10.

13 CHLI I/2, IX.11, 12.

14 Riis 1978-1980, p. 50-52, marked on pl. II; again, with the addition of the two new blocks, Riis & Buhl 1990, p. 27-32, with fig. 3.

15 Laroche 1973.

16 Cf. the discussion in Lipiński 2000, p. 297f.

17 See RGTC 6, s.v. « Hurpanta, Musunipa ».

18 See Parpola 1990, p. 257-265.

19 RIMA A.O. 102.90.

20 Cf. the correspondence between Zīmrī-Lim of Mari and Ishī-Addu of Qatna.

21 See Donbaz 1990; RIMA 3, A.O. 104.3 and 2.

22 Millard 1994, p. 33, 57.

23 Millard 1994, p. 35, 57.

24 E.g. Naʾaman 1991, p. 85.

25 See discussion, Kahn 2007, p. 70.

26 Following Weippert 1992, p. 58f. with n. 97.

27 See Naʾaman 2002.

28 E.g. Kahn 2007, p. 70.

29 Hawkins 1995, p. 95f.

30 Millard 1994, p. 39ff., 58f.

31 Radner 2006, p. 58-61.

32 Radner 2006, p. 58, 62.

33 Tadmor 1994, p. 265-268, including comment on the omission of Hamath from the earliest version of the list, iran Stele, IIIA3-19.

34 Radner 2006, p. 61, s.v. « Manṣuate », claiming that Nimrud Letter 22 shows that Manṣuate was an Assyrian-controlled province already in the reign of Tiglath-pileser III.

35 Lie 1929, p. 6 ll.23ff. = ARAB II, §5; Winckler 1889, I, p. 102ff., II.65, X.3, ll.33-36 = ARAB II, §55; other summary inscriptions preserve short references.

36 Thureau-Dangin 1933.

37 Hawkins 2004.

38 The explanation for this, and the possible date are discussed in Hawkins 2004.

39 Radner 2006, p. 61, 66.

40 CHLI I/2, IX.13,14.

41 See Kohlmeyer 2009; Hawkins 2009, also Hawkins 2011a.

42 Hawkins 2005, p. 289f.; Rieken & Yakubovich 2010.

43 Dinçol et al. 2015.

a RIMA 3, A.O. 104.2.

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Table des illustrations

Titre Map 1.
Légende The Iron Age inscriptions of Hamath (∆)
Crédits © D. Hawkins, M. Sauvage
Fichier image/jpeg, 1,1M
Titre Figure 1.
Légende The Antakya stele (d’après Donbaz 1990, p. 11, fig. 3)
Crédits © Courtoisie Royal Inscriptions of Mesopotamia Project
Fichier image/jpeg, 218k
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Pour citer cet article

Référence papier

John David Hawkins, « Hamath in the Iron age: the Inscriptions »Syria, IV | 2016, 183-190.

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John David Hawkins, « Hamath in the Iron age: the Inscriptions »Syria [En ligne], IV | 2016, mis en ligne le 01 décembre 2018, consulté le 25 mars 2023. URL : ; DOI :

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John David Hawkins

School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London

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